Protect your abdomen during pregnancy with these core-strengthening moves

These three exercises from a yoga instructor can help you build core strength while pregnant

Pregnant woman building core strength
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to stay active during pregnancy, looking around for advice can be confusing. But there are a few practical ways to keep your body moving, build core strength, and protect your abdominal area from unexpected changes.

Even if you have been lacing up a pair of the best running shoes for women and heading outside, it's worth also retaining strength in your ab muscles, core, lower back, and glutes. This is good advice generally, but may be especially important during pregnancy.

When pregnant, your ab muscles stretch to accommodate your baby as it grows. For some women, this can cause a condition called diastasis recti, where a gap of around 3cm develops between the two sides of your abs.

The good news is that you can use exercise to strengthen your core and close the gap without the need for medical intervention or surgery, according to a study published in the Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions.

Impressively, you can find evidence supporting exercise as a treatment for diastasis recti as far back as research published in 1988. But it's also worth strengthening your core as a preventive measure.

You won't need endless crunches or sit-ups, especially if you're pregnant rather than postpartum. Instead, yoga instructor Fern Ross has put together three exercises you can use to stay connected to your core during pregnancy.

Watch Fern Ross' pregnancy core exercises

She recommends TVA breathing, bird dogs, and the side plank, a variation of the workout staple. But don't worry if you aren't familiar with all of these exercises. You can learn how to do a plank to work on your technique for during the side plank.

And if you've not encountered TVA breathing before, according to Fern, it is "an amazing way to stay connected to your deep core and pelvic floor, providing support for your growing bump and laying a strong foundation for healing postpartum."

You start on all fours for the bird dogs before lifting the opposite arm and leg and then do the same for the other side. You can watch Fern's Instagram video for a tutorial on each of the three moves if you want to focus on your form.

Of course, preventing or treating diastasis recti isn't the only benefit to working your abdominal muscles. Your core is an area of mid-body muscle that plays a crucial role in promoting circulation, aiding stability, and reducing the risk of injury.

Consider adding the best workouts for abs to your routine if you're after more core-building exercises. Not all of the moves are suitable for all stages of pregnancy, so do consult with a professional before adding them to your practice. 

But there are other ways to stay active when pregnant which can help build core strength. All you need is one of the best yoga mats and these three exercises for expectant women to get started.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.